I have seen in a couple of blogs pics and videos of US troops using old M72 LAW rocket launchers and AT4 rockets in combat against Al Queerdo and Talibastard forces. My question is….why? The LAW was in vogue over 30 – 40 years ago and I doubt the ones that they are being issued were made in any year beginning with “20” or possibly ending with a “9X”. They were only marginally effective at stopping a MBT (main battle tank) in their heyday and fall way short of defeating the armor of a modern tank by a large margin. They are now apparently being used against soft, static targets by our troops. Same goes for the AT4, while newer in design or capability than the LAW, it still has been designed to be used against armor. While the HEAT (high explosive, anti-tank) rounds used by these rockets (basically a shape charge weapon that concentrates the blast effects of a cone shaped piece of explosive on a small area) will go boom and defeat such targets, its residual spalling (little bits of white hot metal bouncing around the blast) and fragmentation against personnel in the area are not necessarily a designed in feature to these weapons.
Guess what is a man portable rocket system that has both anti-tank and anti-personnel capabilities? Answer: The RPG7.
This Russian “pipe of power” has been a menacing threat on the fields of conflict for over 50 years and with the look of it, another 50 years to go. Just like the AK, the RPG has become synonymous with guerilla conflict across the globe. Don’t have the money for your own artillery, pack a couple of RPG’s and bring the ability to rain hot shrapnel on your enemy with you. Yeah, the basic design and construction are really crude and the fit and finish may not be “showroom grade” by most accounts. The thing is, just like the AK…the damn thing just WORKS!! It is simple enough for an illiterate peasant to learn, robust enough to survive most battlefield conditions and portable enough to allow the bearer to traverse almost any terrain…and bring the anti-personnel power of a light mortar where you need it…fast! It has been a thorn in the side of the US trooper ever since we first came across it in the jungles of Vietnam being used by both the VC and the NVA against us. Remember Blackhawk Down? RPG 25 years later still causing us fits….in the streets of Sadr City and the mountains of “the ‘Stan”….RPG’s giving us fits.
Up until now our answer to the RPG has been the use of weaker 40mm rounds out of the M79 launcher (the bloop tube, or blooper) and later the M203 launcher which turns your AR platform into a pretty bad asses over/under affair. Problem is the 40mm round has less anti- personnel performance than your standard M67 frag grenade with a range of less than 400 meters to use it fairly accurately in. In my opinion we need to come up with something more powerful that is constantly available to our troops.
So why don’t we just steal the damn RPG design and repay the bastards the favor?
It would surely cost much less than having some company and the government spend millions and millions to design something from the ground up to do the same thing. Its simpler so the average troop on the ground could be given one and with very minimal instruction be sending folks to meet their maker in short order.
Sure there would be some need to adjust the way we man our squads. If you create a dedicated rocketeer in the TO&E you are taking oa rifle away from somebody. This would be hard to accept by some…especially the Marines who have that entire “every Marine a rifleman” thing goine and have worked so long on the SMAW system being fielded. And obviously having a RPG on your shoulder will not be useful in CQB encounters, so a decent PDW will need to be adopted to deal with this scenario. But for “normal” operations where a soldier would normally be engaging targets with his primary AR…having somebody dedicated to lobbing 105mm rockets at the enemy instead of 62gr. bullets has some definite appeal.
And hell, we are already using ones procured from friendly Iraqi and Afghani units over there to a limited degree…so just steal the damn design, stamp “made in USA” on it and lets go get some payback!
So military…anyone listening?